John of God

April, 2003

In the spring of 2001, I read an article by Josie Ravenwing in a journal called The Shaman’s Drum about a Brazilian healer named Joao de Deus (John of God). The article was a description of miraculous healings that regularly take place at his healing site called Casa de Dom Ignacio de Loyola located in the interior of Brazil, about one hour and forty minutes south of the capital of Brasilia. My immediate response was excitement and a desire to go there and experience these miracles for myself. However, I immediately dismissed it as a possibility, citing numerous reasons (i.e.-excuses) that taking a trip to Brazil would just be impossible. I flashed back in time to the summer of my 21st year when I took a charter flight to western Europe for a 2 month tour. The journey took 23 hours to get to London from Los Angeles. As a college student, I got the least expensive ticket available, ending up in a cramped coach seat unable to sleep the entire time. Upon my arrival in cold rainy London, I had contracted a flu virus with a raging fever that became an upper respiratory bacterial infection that stayed with me my entire summer. Since that time, though I have traveled quite a lot domestically, I have managed to avoid overnight international air travel, in large part out of the desire not to repeat the painful experience I had 30 years ago. Nevertheless, I continued to frequently reflect on the possibility of experiencing personal healing with this Brazilian healer.

In early November of 2002, I found myself in Petaluma, California, at the Institute of Noetic Sciences for my first week long segment in Michael Harner’s eighth West Coast three-year training program in advanced shamanic healing techniques. Throughout the week I discovered in conversation that three of the staff had recently been to Abadiania, Brazil, to experience personal healing at the Casa de Dom Inacio. Though each of them said very little about their personal experiences (perhaps because as teaching staff, they didn’t want to seem as though the Foundation for Shamanic Studies was actually promoting travel to John of God in Brazil, opening up the Foundation for the possibility of a lawsuit), they all had very positive albeit terse statements about their experiences. That was all that I needed hear. Upon my return home, I broke the news to my wife Anita that I was planning to go to Brazil. I told her the little that I knew about John of God, and that a graduate of Michael Harner’s three-year program, Heather Cumming, was organizing and leading trips to the Casa de Dom Ignacio. What’s more, Heather grew up in Brazil and speaks fluent Portuguese. She had trips planned for February and April, and I wanted to go as soon as possible. But because Anita had a concert planned in February, we agreed that April would be the time of my departure.

Though four months felt like a year, it turned out to be just the right amount of time for me to prepare for an international trip. I needed to update my passport and get my visa in order, as well as get a series of shots completed well before my April departure date. Additionally, an older house that I had recently purchased for my new office was beginning renovation at the beginning of March. It was important that I be around to consult with my contractor for many of the decisions that had to be made at the initial stages of the work. By the time April 12th came around, I had gathered everything I needed, and the remodeling of my building was well underway. What’s more, I cashed in 100,000 miles from my United Airlines mileage plus account so I could secure a round-trip first-class ticket to Brazil! Though I didn’t sleep well, I dozed and rested sufficiently to endure the 23-hour trip (including layovers and flight connections) to Brasilia, so that this time, though I was exhausted, I did not get sick.

As I had arrived a day early, Heather met me at the airport around 5 p.m. with a taxi and whisked us to a beautiful, modern hotel about 20 minutes away. The rest of our group of 14 would be arriving the next day. After getting settled in my room and enjoying a quick shower, I collapsed on the bed into deep sleep for two hours. When I awakened, I gave Heather a ring and we enjoyed getting to know each other over a delightful dinner at the hotel restaurant.

The next day, I did some brief sightseeing and just hung out with Heather as we waited for the rest of our group to arrive at the airport from their various American cities. Heather had chartered one of those enormous tour buses and as we all boarded, she handed out bottled mineral water that had been blessed by the entities at the Casa. Throughout our two week stay, we and all the other visitors at the Casa would be continually drinking liters and liters of the blessed water to support our healing process. By the time we arrived at our hotel, nearly two hours later, we were all very tired and hungry. The proprietors of the hotel had dinner waiting for us with big smiles and warm welcoming hugs. I had finally arrived in Abadiania.

My room was modest but comfortable, with a small private bathroom and hot water for the shower. I awakened at six in the morning to the sounds of roosters, dogs and loud birds that sounded like seagulls. I later found out that they are called tick birds, as they swooped down and picked the ticks off the horses and cows meandering around the farm across the street from us. I got into a new rhythm during my stay in Brazil, going to bed around 10:30 p.m. and waking up to the roosters at six in the morning. I found myself surrendering to a slower pace as I opened up to a more organic flow to each day, becoming more oriented to being in contrast to the constant, omnipresent orientation to always doing in my “normal” day-to-day life. The pace of life in Abadiania is very relaxed and unhurried. There is a basic infrastructure consisting of street lights and electrical lines, running water and underground sewer as well as paved streets and curbing. Yet, there are very few cars on the streets. Primarily, there are the occasional small cars that are used as taxis to take people back and forth from the Casa to their small hotels or pousadas. Occasionally, there might be a dump truck or a tractor using the streets going to and fro from a construction project. But more commonly, I would see people riding their bicycles or a horse drawn cart ferrying supplies to or picking up debris from a smaller, home improvement project in the neighborhood. Overall, Abadiania struck me as a sweet, charming, accessible Brazilian township.

At the Casa, “John of God” is referred to less formally as either medium Joao or “the entity.” His given name is Joao Teixeira da Faria. He is a trance medium healer who incorporates up to 37 different “entities” or healing spirits who actually do the healing. When medium Joao is incorporated by one of these various entities, he is referred to simply as “the entity.” During the times when he is incorporated, his normal consciousness is totally obscured and he remains completely unconscious as the healing spirit or entity (as it is referred to in Brazil) completely takes him over. It is when medium Joao is the entity (or in entity) that the healings takes place, for it is the entities who do the healing through him. Medium Joao had his first spontaneous incorporation experience when he was nine years old. He has been healing people ever since.

La Casa de Dom Ignacio is a large compound that is run completely by volunteers who have been healed by John of God. He never charges for any of his healing work, nor does he ever impose on or preach to anyone any particular religion or spiritual path. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, he is at the Casa available to anyone who comes for healing.  During the two weeks that I was there, I would estimate that there were between three to four hundred people each day that stood in line to see him. However on Good Friday, there were many additional busloads of Brazilians that came to the Casa for healing, in addition to the hundreds of people that were already there. That day, the volunteers counted 1600 people that were seen by the entity.

I had very specific reasons for wanting to visit the Casa. As a shamanic practitioner of over 20 years, it felt important to me to have a deepening experience of the power and the impact that the helping spirits can have on our material reality. Additionally, I wanted to receive healing for two very specific personal issues that I had not been able to resolve. One was a chronic condition in which the muscles throughout the left side of my body remained in a constant, low-level tension. As a consequence, episodes of stress in my day-to-day life, be they physical or emotional, would tend to exacerbate and amplify the muscular tension that often necessitated a trip to the chiropractor’s office. This condition had gone on for decades. Over the years, I had tried and sought out many different kinds of therapy in an effort to resolve it. These included Rolfing, acupuncture, hypnosis, and a variety of different kinds of psychotherapy. Even as each one asserted that the root cause issue was being addressed, a cure had never been realized. I knew that the physical structural problems were a result of early family of origin issues, made worse when as a passenger in a car over 20 years ago, I was rear ended by a pickup truck as we were waiting at a red light. I suffered severe whiplash from that accident, which ended up being the catalyst for what became a chronic, chiropractor dependent physical condition.

The other issue that I needed help with was a work related process which generated a progressive exhaustion. I first started to experience this when I began my energetic healing training in earnest with Judith Swack back in 1996. It took me a number of years to really establish a correlation between my energetic healing work and my exhaustion. For the 10 years prior, when I was studying and practicing process work with Arny Mindell, I was never exhausted. But as soon as I began trainings in the energy psychology field, I would often find myself needing to lie down in the darkened room at the lunch break, while my friends and the other trainees would be off to a restaurant for lunch. It eventually became so bad that quite often by the end of my work week, I would be so tired that I would end up having to lie in bed for the entire weekend with my kidney adrenal areas in my back aching severely. Regular acupuncture and Chinese herbs helped a great deal, yet the exhaustion persisted. When I journeyed to ask my helping spirits for guidance, I was told that I was absorbing too much of my clients’ energy and that I needed to smudge myself with sage after each and every session. This too helped significantly, and although my exhaustion was not as frequent, when it would return it was just as disabling. When I was away from work on a break or vacation, I would not experience any exhaustion at all. I was in the midst of a tremendous dilemma: I was very good at my work and I loved my work but it was literally making me sick. I needed help.

On the first Tuesday morning in Abadiania, I was up with the roosters as the sun began to rise. I showered, made myself some green tea and did my 45 minute routine of qigong. By the time I was finished, people were gathered downstairs for breakfast. There was sweet papaya and pineapple along with freshly baked rolls with cheese, butter and jam. There was a strong smell of Brazilian coffee that permeated the dining room. Everyone in our group was eager for our orientation at the Casa.

The walk to the Casa took only 10-minutes, passing by small private homes, modest pousadas and a couple of small restaurants. When we arrived on the Casa grounds, Heather directed us to the open air, covered gathering hall. This is the congregating area where people gather and line up for each morning and afternoon session, every Wednesday Thursday and Friday. There is a small stage near the back of the hall, where Sebastian, the Casa Secretary, makes his introductions and gives his orientation speech. Generally, people begin to gather around 8:00 in the morning. When Sebastian has completed his orientation and announcements, there are frequently one or two inspirational speakers who help the gathered crowd become more unified and internally prepared for their imminent healing experiences with the entity. Occasionally, the entity will come out onto the stage and perform a visible operation before withdrawing into one of the back rooms.

By 9 or 9:30, the entity is generally ready to see his patients. At this time, the Casa volunteers begin organizing the people in the crowd into separate lines. There is a line for people who have never seen medium Joao; a line for people who have come back for a second or subsequent visit; a line for people who have been designated to have surgery; a line for people who after having had surgery, are going in front of the entity for a revision or a review of their surgery, in order to determine if there is any “touching up” that needs to be done to complete the effects of the surgery; and then there is a line for people who are saying goodbye to medium Joao and who may want to ask him one last question about their healing process. Heather explained to us that there are three rooms in back of the gathering hall. She led us through the door just to the right side of the stage into the first room referred to as the mediums’ room. In this room are benches that can accommodate about 150 people. On the walls are pictures of various saints and doctors (that incorporate into medium Joao), along with large rotating fans. Heather explained to us that this is also known as one of the two “current” rooms. She told us that during each session, there are usually eight or nine volunteers from the Casa (all of whom have been healed by the entity) who open up to Source and ground the channeling of divine energy into this current room. The rest of the people who are sitting in the room during each of the two daily sessions have either already had their surgery or have been directed by the entity to sit in the mediums’ room and open up to Source as well.

There is a twofold purpose for being in the mediums’ room. By having all these individuals opening up to Source with the intention to channel divine energy, they are providing an invaluable service to the healing process by virtue of both supporting and enriching the battery of spiritual energy that provides the energetic support for the entities to do their healing work. It is a way of giving back to the community after having received healing from the entity. Additionally, even as one is providing this service to support the entity, each individual is also being worked on simultaneously by the casa entities. It is truly a great gift to have the opportunity to sit in this current because the spiritual energy is tremendously intense. One’s eyes remain closed throughout the session so that the entities can work on each person and so that any negative energies thrown off by other people do not get absorbed through your eyes.

As I sat in the mediums’ room while Heather explained how the process worked there, I became increasingly aware of a very strong sensation of heightened spiritual energy or current in the room. This was most noticeable for me at my heart chakra as I felt it spontaneously opening, generating strong surges of emotion throughout my being. This caught me by surprise since the entire building was empty except for our small group. Heather later told me that the Casa grounds are located on a powerful energy vortex that amplifies the spiritual energies generated by the entities. I also found out that even when medium Joao is not at the Casa, many of the entities are. It was for the all these reasons and more that I was feeling these sensations. I was becoming very excited to consider what I might experience when medium Joao was incorporated with the power of one of the entities if this was my experience now, simply picking up the morphic resonance of the healing power of the entities in his absence.

Heather then took us through a small hallway into the next room where we would actually meet the entity. The room looked pretty much the same with benches throughout except that at the front of the room, there was a chair next to a small table populated with an array of holy objects. This chair is where medium Joao sits as he is incorporated by one of the entities and receives people. Aptly, this room is referred to as the entity’s room. After a few minutes of additional explanation, Heather then took us through a doorway that let into the third room, referred to as the surgery room. Once again, there were many benches throughout but there were also a few tables where very ill people would be lying down during the surgeries. Heather also told us that we would see numerous people confined to wheelchairs sitting in this room to receive their surgeries as well.

What I discovered in my discussions with the many people I met throughout my two week stay is that most who come to the Casa eventually receive a surgery. For every group of people who are designated for surgery at any given morning or afternoon healing session, medium Joao always asks the group members if there are any interested volunteers desiring a visible operation. Usually, there are two or three individuals who decide they need more concrete evidence and thus receive a visible operation or surgery. These are always videotaped so that the patient can review what occurred afterwards, since one’s eyes are closed during surgeries. The visible operations frequently involve having the patient’s skin cut open with a scalpel and then stitched up or a six inch long Kelly’s clamp inserted into the patient’s nose where various surgery sites throughout the body can be accessed. Medium Joao has said many times that there is no difference in the outcome between a visible operation and an invisible surgery. In fact, it seems to me that over 99 percent of all who come for healing receive an invisible surgery. My own invisible surgery was nothing short of miraculous. But that didn’t happen until the next day.

As we were led outside, Heather explained to us that at the end of each morning healing session, everyone lines up for vegetable soup that is provided for free by the Casa volunteers. The soup is blessed by the entity and is considered medicinal. It is yet another component that supports each person’s healing process in this unique place of light and love. There is a large outdoor covered area of benches and tables where people sit down together to enjoy their soup. Heather completed our orientation by taking us through the beautiful Casa gardens, and pointed out to us a few of the outbuildings that are included on the Casa grounds. In a couple of buildings to the back of the gardens, there are three small rooms where people receive their “crystal baths.” As you walk in a room, a Casa volunteer helps you up onto a massage table where you are directed to lie on your back. A couple of feet suspended above you is an array of seven crystals connected to different colored lights that illuminate each one of the crystals. Each of these crystals has been specifically configured by the entities and is pointed approximately over where each of the seven chakras lie. As your eyes are closed and the lights are turned down, the volunteer turns on some gentle music as different colored lights send their unique frequencies through each of the seven crystals in an alternating rhythm. Each crystal bath is 20 minutes long and designed to balance your chakras and realign the frequencies in your electromagnetic field. Frequently, the entity will direct an individual to take a number of crystal baths prior to a surgery in order to be better prepared to receive a more comprehensive healing result. Heather had reserved two crystal baths for each member in our group prior to our first meeting with the entity. When I exited my two back-to-back crystal baths, I felt not only refreshed, but extremely clear energetically and mentally. I felt better than after any massage I had ever received.

As we walked around the other side of the gardens, we passed by a small store where a variety of snacks are sold. These included cold drinks, ice cream and pastries. As we continued another 100 yards beyond, we ended up at the Casa general store, another very small Casa run business where the omnipresent blessed mineral water is sold by the case. Additional items available for purchase include crystals of all different sizes (blessed by the entities), as well as books and videotapes about medium Joao and the Casa. This is also where one makes reservations for the crystal baths. As we made our way toward the street, we passed by the pharmacy to our left. During the Casa hours Wednesday through Friday, you can stop by anytime and hand your herbal “prescription” to the volunteer behind the window who will find your particular herbs. About one month’s supply costs less than $20. The rest of the day we just relaxed, meditated, explored the community and readied ourselves for our encounter with the entity.

After dinner, Heather invited us all upstairs to the hotel’s second floor common area to do a shamanic journey in an effort to connect with the spirits of the Casa. Heather rattled vigorously for a good 20 minutes. After just a few minutes, a young, beautiful feminine spirit came into view. It had a beautiful young face and was very wispy and light. It came from the right and then in swirled in front of me like a gentle breeze. As it became more substantial I saw that it was cradling a very young child. It communicated to me that it was healing my own inner child as it tenderly held and rocked this part of me. The communication I got from it was primarily on a feeling level. It was literally loving and nurturing this very young, tender and wounded child part of me. This feminine spirit had the sweetest face, almost angelic. It communicated to me that it was going to continue to work with this child part through the night. It then disappeared and my journey came to an end.

I want to preface what follows with an acknowledgment that everything that I’m about to tell you is true and actually happened to me. My inner visioning abilities helped me to internally experientially validate everything that I’m about to report. The healings that I experienced were all incredibly vivid. It was as though I had some sort of internal amplifier attached to my visioning abilities. Everything I experienced was magnified. I attribute this to being in the powerful field of loving spiritual energy that encompasses the Casa grounds.

We were all up early that first Wednesday as Heather had us ready to leave at 7:40 a.m. Once at the Casa, we gathered at the large entry hall and quietly waited as other pilgrims arrived. Heather and the Casa secretary, Sebastian, made some introductions and went over the rules of the Casa in both English and Portuguese. After that, a local minister, speaking in Portuguese, led everyone in some inspirational songs. After a few minutes medium Joao arrived, obviously incorporated and very much in command. He came onto the stage and looked around the crowd piercingly. He identified a few people with canes and signaled them to walk up onto the stage. As they hobbled up, he would grab their cane and throw it across the stage, telling the individuals they don’t need that cane to walk anymore while motioning them to walk on their own into the surgery room in the back. A couple of minutes later, a Brazilian woman was directed to a chair on the stage. There was an American doctor standing next to medium Joao holding a tray of instruments. The entity then took a kitchen paring knife and separating her eyelids with his fingers, began scraping the outside of her cornea with the knife, occasionally flicking off parts of the outer layer of her eye. The American doctor was explaining that the eye reflex is the most sensitive reflex in the body. Yet this woman apparently felt nothing as the entity performed the surgery. In ways that no one really understands, it is the entities who create the anesthesia for the patients as well as sterilize all the instruments that are used in the surgeries.

When the surgery was completed, the older Brazilian woman started up from her seat as though she was ready to proceed with her day. However, two Casa volunteers helped her to a wheelchair and assisted her to the recovery room. Immediately afterwards, the entity walked off the stage and went into one of the back rooms. When the door shut behind him, a flurry of activity began in the large hall as some of the Casa volunteers began directing people to line up in preparation of their meeting with the entity. With the exception of one of our group (who had been to see medium Joao once before), Heather directed all us to line up in the line for people who had never before interacted with the entity. I had a lot of mixed feelings at the time. For one thing, I was in a lot of physical pain due to the activation of the chronic back problem that had plagued me for the last 20 years. On a physical level, it was the thing I wanted the most help with, since it put me in the chiropractor’s office far too often. What’s more, when left untreated for two to three days, the misalignment of my vertebrae would create an excruciating nerve compression sensation where I would end up feeling as though my life force energy was slowly being squeezed out of me as I became progressively weaker and weaker. This was actually my greatest fear of traveling to Brazil. I worried that this pattern would get stimulated from the rigors of international travel and there I would be, in the interior of Brazil, far from any chiropractor, feeling as though I was slowly and progressively dying, becoming weaker by the day. It seemed to me a cruel irony that this was exactly my plight as I approached this Brazilian healer. In retrospect, it is not surprising that the symptom or disturbance that was most problematic for me became amplified so that the entity would be able to see with great clarity the pattern that needed to be addressed. At any rate, I decided that I was not going to indulge in my fears. My faith in Spirit had led me this far, so I surrendered to my situation and opened myself up to the love and healing power of what purportedly came through this miracle man called John of God.

Within ten minutes, it was my turn in front of the entity, having passed through the medium’s room (whose benches were completely filled with white clothed, meditating individuals), as I mentally reviewed what I wanted to tell him. I, like all the others in my group, was firmly grasping my small piece of paper with the two primary issues that I wanted help with. To my great surprise, as I approached the entity he was already writing out my herbal prescription and telling me (in Portuguese, which Heather was translating), that I was to return at 2:00 for surgery. I never had an opportunity to explain to him what I was wanting and as it turned out, I did not need to. By the time I approached him, he had already scanned my blueprint and determined not only what kind of herbs I needed, but what my core issue was and the treatment that I needed in order to resolve it. It all happened very quickly, probably within 30 seconds total. I now understood how it was possible for the entity to treat hundreds of people everyday. I was directed to the surgery room along with a small group of individuals, where we sat down, closed our eyes and received a blessing in Portuguese. When this was finished, we were told in Portuguese and English that we had received the blessing of purification and we were now free to go. We walked through the room and out the door where we were directed to the soup line, a couple hundred feet away. In just a couple of minutes, we were each given a substantial bowl of steaming hot vegetable soup. As I sat down at one of the tables, I mused on what had been a totally unsensational morning. Of course, I wondered what my surgery was going to be like. Little did I know the profound experience that awaited me.

After a hearty lunch at our hotel, Heather had us back at the Casa by 1:45. At 2:00, Sebastian was back on the stage giving his brief orientation speech once again. Everyone present was led in prayer and then another Brazilian came onto the stage to lead the large group of people gathered in the hall in some traditional Brazilian religious or spiritual songs. Shortly thereafter, Heather gathered the five of us selected from our group for surgery that afternoon and directed us into the surgery room. To my surprise, the benches were already nearly full with other surgery candidates for that afternoon’s session. We were told by Heather to keep our eyes closed and remain prayerful, seeing and feeling ourselves healed of the particular issues we were needing help with. A few minutes later, I began hearing a man speaking Portuguese which continued intermittently throughout the next hour.

For what I imagined to be the first 15 minutes, nothing extraordinary happened to me that I was aware of. And then quite spontaneously, I began visioning or seeing the left side of my energy field appear to me as a large grid that was literally being tightly re-weaved with a thick, strong wire. I watched in awe as an unseen hand moved artfully through the grid. Eventually, the thick wire moved to my cervical vertebrae as I saw it weave itself back and forth through each and every vertebra, tightening my entire spinal column. By the time it reached my sacrum, it had transformed into a bright electric blue light that began oscillating back and forth in an infinity sign. I had the inner knowing that this was going to continue even after the surgery was completed.

I next became aware of some very slight tingling at the bottoms of my feet. As I directed my awareness to my feet, I noticed that energy was going down into the earth from my feet. I realized that this energy was grounding me as a way to provide a solid base from which it could work to continue its healing. What was different about this perception of grounding was that rather than going straight down into the center of the earth, what I was seeing was that the energy was moving both down and across the earth like a very fast-moving computer generated graphical representation of an expanding network. I also had the awareness that the earth was very much alive and fertile. I experienced the earth as a living being, rich with life that I was connecting to in a most profound and comprehensive manner. As I enjoyed this new relationship to the living earth, I began to experience sensations from this living earth coming up into my feet continuing up my body through my legs. It was a very humbling experience for me as I felt tremendous gratitude for having been given this vision of the living mother earth. This energy continued to ascend through me until it got to my heart center, where I saw and had the intuitive knowing that my heart center was too open. I saw that energetically, my heart center was out of balance. Immediately following this awareness, I saw the energy of my heart center slowly recede and come into balance. What I next saw startled me. In the very center of my heart chakra was a large eye, slowly blinking as it conveyed a sense of detached compassion. Along with this awareness came the exhortation that I am to see from my heart. I next instantly understood that all healing comes from love, and that everything else that I might do to help my clients is simply setting up the conditions for love to accomplish its healing. I was moved to tears and became very emotional at this awareness. As I was processing all of this, I became aware of the same wispy beautiful feminine spirit from the previous night, approaching me from the right. She had the same young, beautiful face and was carrying the child part of me that I had witnessed the night before. She presented this child part to me, telling me that she had healed this part and that this child was now ready to come home. Once again, I was moved to tears as she opened her hands and this child part of me merged into my heart. She then disappeared as I remained astounded in awe and gratitude.

After what must have been a few minutes, this energy continued to move up and through me, opening my crown chakra to the God/Source above. I perceived this Source energy coming into my crown chakra as an open cone, which transformed into a multicolored column affirming my solid connection to Source. I remained in this ecstatic and altered state for a while, not really having a sense of time about it. Eventually, I heard somebody speaking in English that interrupted my experience. He was saying that our surgery was over, and to keep our eyes closed while closing prayers were being recited. What someone told me later is that when the entity is finished seeing the lines of people for that particular healing session, he comes into the surgery room and in Portuguese exclaims, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are healed!” He then leaves the room and then the Casa volunteers recite the closing prayers.

I had been told beforehand that because of the very nature of the invisible surgery, my energy field would be extremely open and for the first 24 hours following the surgery, I would need to be confined to my hotel so as not to absorb anybody else’s potentially “negative energies.” When I left the surgery room, I had two prominent awarenesses. The first thing I noticed was that my entire left side felt different from before I had walked in. When my vertebrae go out of alignment, the pattern is always felt on the left side of my body. Unbelievably, I felt as though my body had just received a chiropractic adjustment. I had that familiar achy feeling from my neck all the way down to my low back, but there was no pain! On the physical level alone, something very concrete had occurred. I was totally amazed, and tremendously relieved. The other thing that I noticed was feeling more open then I had ever felt in my life. The only way I can try to communicate this is to reference to the experience that I have had after having my eyes dilated for an eye exam. When I leave the eye doctor’s office, I have to be wearing dark colored sunglasses because my pupils are simply too open to comfortably accommodate normal light. That’s how I felt throughout my entire being! I couldn’t be in the sun, and I couldn’t be around any other people. I was feeling emotionally very vulnerable and overly sensitive on a general sensory based level. I just knew I needed to retreat very quickly back to my hotel room. I managed to get my prescription of herbs filled around the corner from where we were let out. Immediately following that, I took one of the waiting taxis back to my hotel, got to my room and immediately lay down for the next two hours. When it was time for dinner, I was feeling more consolidated and was actually able to interact with the others in our group.

The next day, Heather told those of us who had had surgery the day before that the best thing we could do for ourselves was to lie down in our beds during the morning and afternoon session, focusing our attention on the current rooms in the Casa. She told us that this was the best way for us to stay connected with the Casa spirits so they could continue to work on us. From 8:30 to 10:30 in the morning I put myself into a meditative state, opening myself to any further healing that the Casa spirits might avail themselves to. I was a bit tired from my experience the day before, so I didn’t mind at all just lying in bed that morning open to the grace of the spirits. After a leisurely lunch I went back into my room, did some reading and at 2:00, when the afternoon session started at the Casa, I lay down in my bed with an eye pillow over my eyes.

Once again, I set my intention to connect with the spirits who I knew were currently actively healing those individuals seeing medium Joao at the Casa. It was a warm afternoon and I fell into a deep altered state very quickly. About an hour later, I heard someone trying to open a door lock down the hallway. I just mentally noted this and fell back into my trance. Just a minute later, I heard the lock of my own door (which I had locked so no one would disturb me in my meditation) being opened. I bolted upright and saw a heavyset man with short hair whose head and shoulders were now in my room! “Harry?” he asked. I, having just been awakened from a deeply altered state, was in a state of shock and confusion. “No,” I said. “My name is Howard.” Again, he inquired, “Harry?” Once again, I replied, “No, I’m Howard. Is there a phone call for me?” He then replied “No. Excuse me,” and he shut the door behind him and left. I was in a daze. Someone had just violated my security by unlocking my lock and letting himself into my room. My impression was that this was one of Jelson’s sons, the muscular one who had helped carry up our luggage the night we had arrived. I was very upset by the intrusion and could no longer meditate. I wanted to go down and talk to Jelson, the hotel proprietor, immediately. But Jelson only spoke Portuguese and I did not. So I decided I would just wait until Heather returned from the Casa later on in the afternoon, so she could translate for me in processing this with Jelson.

I picked up one of the three books that I had brought along and began reading it. Thirty minutes later, after I had calmed down a bit, my awareness was jolted by the synchronicity of the book that I had selected to read: Dreaming While Awake: Techniques for 24-hour Lucid Dreaming, by Dr. Arnold Mindell. It made me reflect for a moment about my experience. Did I dream that or was it real? I know I had locked my door before my meditation and I know that my door was unlocked when I went to examine it afterwards. My experience was just as lucid and real as the book I was holding in my hand. But I had to admit that the feeling or vibe that I experienced during my interaction with the intruder was completely neutral between the two of us. This perplexed me. In reflection now, I would have thought the intruder would have been startled upon the discovery that I was in the room. But in truth, I sensed nothing in the vibe between the two of us, and I am very sensitive to the interpersonal field on an energetic level. Just who was he, anyway?

By 4:45, Heather and a few members of our group had returned from the Casa (remember, not everyone had surgery on the day before). When I was able to speak to Heather alone, I explained to her what had happened to me and insisted that we process this with Jelson immediately. As we talked upstairs with Heather translating for me, Jelson informed us that both of his sons were in another city that week. What’s more he added, he is the only person with the master key so it was not possible for anyone else to unlock the doors, unless of course they were a professional burglar. I dismissed that as a possibility due to the fact that there was no surprise that I felt from the intruder. As we continued to process this event, it became evident that the intruder was indeed a spirit who went to the trouble to unlock my door as a way to get my attention about Harry. Even my muscle testing confirmed that this was indeed true. But why? As we continued to discuss this, Heather asked me if I knew anyone named Harry. I told her there was no one I knew named Harry, but I knew of a Harry since that is the grandfather that the first letter of my name is named after. My grandfather Harry was my father’s father who died of a heart attack before I was born. Interestingly, I knew nothing about him because nothing was ever said about him. Heather suggested that when we did our shamanic journeys to her rattle that evening, that I set my intention to connect with the soul of grandfather Harry as well as my father, who was alive and well in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what I did.

That evening after dinner, we gathered in the hotel common area upstairs. Heather had suggested a particular group theme for the rest of the group to journey on but I had my own assignment. As she began rattling, I set my intention to connect with the soul of my grandfather Harry. Very soon, I begin getting images of what turned out to be a quick synopsis of Harry’s life. It was like a very rapid slide show. First I saw a young boy about seven or eight years old crouched in fear in a forest setting. I could tell that he was paralyzed in fright as he was witnessing an atrocity. The next images revealed three horse soldiers with long sabers riding up to a modest cabin. There was a man and a woman inside and when the man came out, he was attacked by the soldiers with their swords and hacked to death.

The next scene showed a young adolescent boy on a large ship headed to the new world. The next scene showed Harry as an adult dressed in a suit in where I knew to be America. The last scene showed Harry lying on his back in a coffin with a hole in his heart. When I saw this scene, I instantly recalled a journey my good friend Michelle had undertaken for me wherein she described an ancestor of mine lying in a coffin with a hole in his heart. She did not identify the ancestor as my grandfather, yet here he was.

What I next saw shocked me. My horse had taken me to the spirit of grandfather Harry who I recognized as a “suffering being” or ghost trapped in the middle world. I briefly communicated with him and he corroborated that he was indeed confused and disoriented, not absolutely certain at all where he was. In my psychopomp training, I recognized that the trapped spirit of my grandfather needed to be released from the middle world so his soul could move on and evolve. As I was about to initiate this discussion with Harry, my horse urgently prompted me to follow him back to the scene where I had first encountered Harry as a traumatized and frightened child in the woods. My horse communicated to me that before Harry’s spirit could be liberated from the middle world, he first needed a soul retrieval! When we arrived at the scene in the woods, it became instantly evident to me that this was where and when the soul loss had occurred. I then engaged this traumatized child part, explaining to it that its grown-up self was in trouble and could not move forward on its journey until this child part that had been lost was able to be returned. I reassured it that with the help of my gentle yet strong horse companion that it would remain safe in its journey back to its adult self. I explained to it that it did not need to stay stuck in this forest in a state of fear and paralysis. I told it quite honestly that when it united with its adult self, it could look forward to a great adventure. It then willingly came back with us and with the help of my horse, was able to be merged with the soul of grandfather Harry who was trapped in the middle world.

Immediately after the integration process occurred, I asked and Harry answered that he was ready to meet his own spiritual family and move on. My horse then took him to a place in the upper world where his personal journey would continue. When my horse soon returned, he took me to connect with the soul of my father in Los Angeles.

In a room, I saw an outline of my father and off to the side a few feet a glowing form that I knew to be the soul of my father. I asked permission to speak to it and permission was granted. I very quickly conveyed all that I had discovered and just experienced. As I was doing this, I realized that I had just facilitated healing the energetic origin of an ancestral pattern on my father’s family lineage that had been responsible for the chronic back problem I had been suffering from for years! I also realized and communicated to my father’s soul that the heart pain connected to both my grandfather’s heart attack as well as my father’s heart attack had now been healed. It was this inherited “pain of the heart” that I suddenly realized was responsible for the hostility and emotional distancing I experienced from my father as a child. You see, my father always sat to my left at the family dinner table. When he came home for dinner after working a 12-hour day, not only was he exhausted but I am sure that having only had cups and cups of coffee for his nutrition during the day, followed by a brandy upon his arrival at home, his blood sugar was completely out of balance. These factors along with the unhealed ancestral heart pain all contributed to a very unhappy dinner experience that became part of our dysfunctional family dynamic.

During our family dinners, the emotional energy emanating from my father (who always sat to my left) was hostile, distancing, critical and shaming. Years later as I became sensitive to energetic phenomena, I began to realize how years of trying to defend myself from his negative dinner table energy actually eroded and contracted the energy field along the left side of my body. As a child I was unaware of what was going on energetically of course. But emotionally, it always felt like a torture to have to sit at that dinner table with my family. As I got older, I also became aware of his vulnerability that I realized I could never reveal for fear that I would betray the family “unspoken agreement” to protect the myth that my father was invulnerable and that my father’s power and control was never to be challenged. I became the guardian of his vulnerability and the emotional caretaker of his own inherited wounded child as well. The consequences to me on the physical level resulted in an actual physical imbalance with the muscles all along the left side of my body significantly smaller and weighing less than the muscles along the right side of my body. This was pointed out to me the first time I ever saw a chiropractor when I was in college. I went to a sports medicine chiropractor named Dr. Leroy Perry who actually had a scale that weighed the left side and the right side of my body as I stood on it. He was quite shocked to discover a significant imbalance in my left side/right-side weight. The contraction to my energy field along the left side of my body set up conditions for the chronic chiropractic problems I would have years later after suffering severe whiplash I earlier referenced to from being rear ended as a passenger in an auto in my late twenties. For many years I had sought out different kinds of therapies in an effort to heal the deep-seated tension throughout the musculature along the left side of my body. As I was explaining to the soul of my father what I had just discovered, I realized quite suddenly that grandfather Harry had been healed, my father had been healed and that I too was healed of this ancestral pattern.

During the rest of my stay in Brazil, I had no thought of needing a chiropractor. My body felt well and my energy was good. As I write this six weeks after my return from Brazil, I have to report that my experience physically has been very interesting. For the first three weeks, the muscles along the left side of my body would tighten up intermittently. Sometimes it would be my neck, sometimes it would be my low back. The thought would enter my mind that I needed to see the chiropractor accompanied by a feeling of frustration that the surgery I had in Brazil had not held. But to my total surprise and delight, my body would very soon correct itself and come back into balance! By the end of the third week I realized that what my body was experiencing was the muscle memory of the old pattern trying to reassert itself. I also came to know that the persistent deep-seated chronic low-grade tension throughout the musculature of the left side of my body was gone! Even though there was the muscle memory trying to reassert itself, there was nothing for it to grab onto since the energetic pattern (along with its ancestral emotional roots) had been released! What’s more, though it was a more subtle realization initially, the deep shame that the child part in me I had always carried had also been healed! I believe that this was an integral component of what had been a chronic physical disturbance in my adult life. This came much stronger into my awareness five weeks upon my return, when I had my second meeting in California for my three-year training in advanced shamanic healing techniques with 75 other people. I found myself to be much more extraverted in general, and completely comfortable in our large group meetings. It dawned on me my second day there that I was no longer carrying the shame that in the past, made me cringe at the prospect of being in a large group of people.

During these first five weeks of my integration time, I continued to feel fluctuations in my heart chakra. These energetic fluctuations caused me to feel intermittent pressure and feelings of heaviness in the center of my chest. I was not able to identify the cause of this until I realized (at the training I just mentioned) that I was going through a grieving process. When the child part of my grandfather Harry that had suffered soul loss was healed, so too was the child part in me healed. Because this was the healing of an ancestral energetic origin, the part in me that carried the shame was healed as the whole pattern collapsed. Once all this came to my conscious awareness, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for me. I realized that as this wounded part in me was finally healed, I experienced transformation at the identity level. This was a most profound realization because of the enormous ramifications to my life in general. I realized I was no longer encumbered and held back to be fully empowered any longer. I would never again be identified with an emotionally wounded, shame filled child who questioned his own self worthiness. I needed to grieve the loss of a part of me that suffered silently for most of my life. It was through the tribulations of this wounded part that I developed the tremendous sensitivity and empathy for others that has served me in so many ways through the years. As is typical of any grieving process, my thoughts and feelings were mixed toward this part of me. I was ecstatic to no longer be tyrannized by the pervasive shame this part personified. At the same time, I felt a strong need to honor this part for all of its suffering and travail since it was so influential in the development of who I am today. My body helped me to get through this grieving process by contracting the first cold I had in two years. As I went through the sequence of cold symptoms, my runny nose and my chest congestion cued me in to the need to honor this child part of me. As I moved through my cold to a place of physical homeostasis, I realized that just as I honor my helping spirits everyday, so too do I need to honor that child part in me for its courage, being a survivor, its sensitivity and ultimately its compassion. Since it was never my conscious thought to heal the shame that I carried within me as I approached John of God, it was truly a blessing in the deepest sense of the word to experience this release. Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived that this could happen to me.

On the Thursday morning of my second week in Abadiania, I had the opportunity to ask the entity questions about anything related to my healing process that still felt unresolved. With Heather translating, I asked him if the exhaustion process I had been struggling with had been addressed, or if there was still something more than needed to be done. He too reaffirmed that I was absorbing too much of my clients’ energies. He told me I needed to have one additional crystal bath as well as to go under the sacred waterfall two times. He also told me to spend the rest of my time in his current room. Additionally, he told me that if I wanted, I was a candidate to purchase some very special crystals that would help to keep me from absorbing any of my clients’ negative or toxic energies. He said that since these would cost me a few hundred dollars, it was not a requirement, simply a healing option he would provide for me if I wanted them. Though I didn’t understand the dynamics of how they would work, I said absolutely yes. Later on in the day, Heather explained to me that occasionally, the entity makes this suggestion to healers that he feels would benefit from the purgative and restorative powers of these crystals. She told me she herself had been offered a pair of crystals from the entity, and that they supported her healing process tremendously.

The next morning, before medium Joao incorporated, she took me into his backroom where he presented to me two enormous quartz crystals. I humbly thanked him and then Heather took me out of the room. She told me that there was a male and female crystal and that they would work together. Each crystal weighs 2-3 pounds, taken from over 130 feet deep in the earth from an old gold mine. She told me that these two crystals were just for me, and that I was to show them to no one else. She told me to keep them covered and to cleanse them in saltwater regularly. She explained that these crystals have a tremendous amount of knowledge to teach me, and as I journey to connect with their spirit I will continue to learn more about them. She then directed me into the entity’s room where I was told to place them under the table so that when the entity did his healing work during the day, the crystals would be imbued with his compassionate energy as he merged with the crystals.

Later that evening after dinner, we walked to the Casa under the canopy of the Southern Cross and numerous other brightly lit constellations. I retrieved the crystals and placed them in my backpack. Though I didn’t feel anything from them immediately, I felt that I had received yet another blessing. My experience in the weeks subsequent would bear this out. Once I got settled back at home, I journeyed to contact the spirit of each crystal separately. I was given specific information regarding the manner in which each crystal both absorbs and cleanses any negative energies that I might absorb from my clients. When I hold the two crystals at the end of a workday, the visions that I experience as they become activated are remarkable to me. What is even more remarkable however, is how strong and constant my energy has remained ever since my return from Brazil. This was true even through the worst of my cold. There is one more piece of this second healing process that I would like to share with you. It was what I experienced when I went to the sacred waterfall.

The cachoeira or sacred waterfall, is a 15-minute walk from the Casa grounds. It is known around the area as a sacred place and a power spot where the spirits of the Casa heal those who are directed there by the entity. Only those who are directed by the entity are allowed to go the sacred waterfall. The waterfall itself is relatively small, probably only 10 feet high in a beautiful shaded area, surrounded by trees and native plants. Where the water cascades onto rock, a shallow pool is formed from which winds a small creek. To eliminate the distraction of any sexual energy, men and women are segregated from bathing together. When I first arrived there Thursday after the noon healing session, it was about five o’clock and there were probably twelve other people waiting for their opportunity to bathe under the waterfall. Since most people spend about 20 to 30 minutes there, I decided to go back the next morning in an effort to beat the crowds.

After an early breakfast, Heather called me a taxi and I was at the sacred waterfall at 7:30. The sun was already shining bright in the sky, and happily, I was the only person there except for a couple of Brazilian men were being paid by the Casa to sweep and clean the 100 foot trail to the waterfall. As I approached the waterfall I began focusing internally, praying to the spirits of nature and of the waterfall itself, asking for their help in my healing and cleansing, all the while paying homage to them. At the end of the dirt trail, a 15 foot long wooden foot path leads one directly to the waterfall. I took off my shoes, socks and shirt and leaving them with my towel, slowly traversed the wooden foot path. As I walked onto the rock outcroppings, I opened up my senses to take in the smells and the beauty of this place of power. I felt the presence of spirits and thanked them for their blessings. I approached the waterfall with great reverence as I carefully stepped through the pooling water to position my body right underneath the cascading water. It was cold and refreshing. As it washed on and over my shoulders, I visualized the healing energy of this sacred water cleansing my entire being and purifying every cell in my body. Then I turned around and let the water wash on and over my chest, visualizing the same cleansing and purification. I then spent some time wading in the pooling water below before walking out and over the wooden foot path to dry my body in the hot Brazilian sun. I reflected in the verdant solitude, feeling the breezes caress my warming body as I continued to keep my senses open to my present experience. How remarkable, I thought, to be here in the interior of Brazil, feeling its intense tropical sun drying me from my immersion in a sacred waterfall.

I wanted to drink in as much of this as I possibly could. It all seemed so amazing to me, that I traveled so far and so long to be here in this power spot, directed by a powerful spirit. After about 20 minutes of this musing, I once again traversed the wooden foot path and with great reverence, approached the sacred waterfall. As I walked slowly onto the rock outcroppings, I internally heard the word “stop.” As I stopped, I became aware of a swirling mist around me that I intuitively knew was the spirit of the waterfall. I knew that this spirit was feminine, and I knew that as she swirled around me, my auric field was being cleansed. After a couple of minutes, the swirling dissipated and as I took another two steps toward the waterfall, I heard another “stop.” As I did, I saw that three of my chakras were congested from the absorption of other people’s negative energies. I saw these to be my first chakra, my solar plexus chakra and my sixth chakra. I saw these very vividly and was told by the spirit of the waterfall to go forward and let her cleansing waters purify my chakras. I was in awe, but very grateful for the benevolent interest and attention from this nature spirit. I approached the waterfall once again and for quite some time, submitted my body and my whole being to the purifying waters of the sacred place. After my upper torso had been thoroughly immersed for some minutes, I stepped away, thankful, humbled and appreciative for all that I had received. As I was preparing to step down into the pooling waters below, I heard that same feminine voice say the following: “And now put your head under the water for the blessing.” Though the water was cold, I did not hesitate. I thanked the spirit of this sacred place as I let the cold, cleansing water wash over my head to receive her blessing. As I walked back to the Casa, taking in the fecundity and beauty of the surrounding lush greenery, I marveled at what I just experienced and knew in my heart that I was given a new start. I was certain that my energy field and all of my chakras were sparkling from the spiritual cleansing I had just received. I began to realize and appreciate the power and the mystery that the spirits or entities generated in this most sacred place.

I went to Brazil on a pilgrimage to experience John of God in the community of Abadiania. I had some very specific objectives for going on this long journey. On the physical level, I wanted relief and healing for what had become a chronic chiropractic-dependent back problem as well as what had become chronic intermittent disabling work-related exhaustion. As I have made an effort to describe, I received profound healing for both of these problematic physical issues. The other objective that I came to Abadiania for, was to personally experience and be a witness to the impact and power of Spirit on this material plane of reality. Because of my many years of meditation and shamanic journey work, I have developed the ability to be able to easily “see” into the realms of nonordinary reality where the spirits do their work. As a consequence, my experiences in Brazil were very rich. I very much experienced the love and power of Spirit in this reality. For the many people who do not personally consciously experience the intervention and collaboration of the compassionate spirits in their life, it is probable that much of what I have described will sound like fantasy. But I believe that anyone can learn the shamanic journey methodology to both connect with the compassionate spirits, and subsequently learn to accept the reality of this spirit-based paradigm. But I also need to qualify this. There were many people in my group of fourteen who did not know how to do the shamanic journey method. This was never an obstruction to them to receive and benefit from the gifts bestowed by the entities during their two week stay.

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Six weeks after my return from Brazil, I am different now. For all the reasons and all the experiences described above, I am a transformed individual. I feel much more free in my body now, knowing that it is supporting me instead of distracting me with what had been chronic physical disturbances and pain.

The Saturday following my return, I visited my Chinese doctor in Portland for a routine checkup with the expectation I would continue to need herbs to assist my physical integration after an arduous international flight. As is her custom, she took my pulses, looked at my tongue and for the first time in over the 3-years since I have been seeing her, she told me that my pulses were completely normal and I did not need any herbs. She even told me that it would be a good idea to take a break from treatment since she could find nothing out of balance with me! I was flabbergasted and shocked! Then, I began to realize that of course, it made perfect sense. The deep healing I had experienced was not just something that happened in Brazil, only to remain as a fond memory. It had created permanent changes in me at all levels, as I have attempted to explain. Yet, what is even more profound for me is that my relationship to the helping spirits has deepened to a new and different level. When I am with clients now, I pay less attention to their words and more attention to how the spirits are helping them. As a therapist, it is all too easy to become entranced by a client’s story. What I have come to know is that when I ask the spirits for help, they respond immediately and are present in ways that I can see. It is still very astounding to me to be able to actually perceive the presence of my helping spirits actively engaged in assisting my clients. Yet, that is my truth as the veil between ordinary reality and the invisible world has become more permeable and transparent, and my relationship with the compassionate spirits has become more fluid.

Dr. Michael Harner has said that even though the spirits who reside in this other dimension are very powerful indeed, they must have our help as facilitators to bridge the two worlds in order for them to bring their healing power into this reality. The more that this becomes an accepted reality for each one of us, the more our subconscious mind will allow this truth to become deeply integrated into our whole identity. Once this occurs, and we have accepted “as real” that we have this power and capability to bring the healing power of Spirit into this material realm, it is then a simple matter for an ongoing collaboration with the compassionate spirits to develop. Please understand—the spirits want to help us! All that is required of us is a sincere desire to help others in need, a commitment to a value system based on love, and learning the simple methodologies and guidelines for working with the spirits from the place of deep integrity. These methodologies have stood the test of time. With the help of Dr. Michael Harner, whose assiduous research over many years has developed the core shamanic principles that are taught through his Foundation for Shamanic Studies, anyone can safely learn these techniques. Though I assume there are others teaching shamanic methods with integrity, my personal experience has been limited to Dr. Harner and teachers trained by him. While religions are inventions created by men who insist we ought to believe in the revelations and insights of particular individuals deemed saints and prophets, shamanism insists that you honor only your personal experience and nothing more. I am fortunate in that my path provides for direct experience of Spirit through a simple time-tested methodology. If you are willing to challenge your existing beliefs via direct experience of the compassionate spirits, you too can receive the gifts, teachings and blessings of these loving beings who are always available to help, and whose only agenda is to help alleviate the pain and suffering that is pervasive in our world. It has been my great good fortune to have experienced just this with John of God in Brazil.